Each party gets around 30 minutes to deliver its case during oral arguments. Attorneys, on the other hand, are not obligated to use the full time. The petitioner speaks first, followed by the respondent. If the petitioner allots time for rebuttal, the petitioner is the last to speak. If there is no rebuttal, then the respondent had no opportunity to speak.
In fact, attorneys can spend as little as 10 minutes presenting their cases if they choose to do so. However, it is typical for them to allocate more time so that they can better explain their positions and respond to questions from the court.
The petitioner has the opening statement at the beginning of the argument before the respondent has even made his or her appearance. This gives the petitioner an advantage because he or she is able to outline the issues before the respondent has a chance to state his/her position. If the petitioner fails to present an argument or makes an inadequate one, the court may conclude that he/she has waived their right to appeal the issue.
After both parties have presented their cases, the judge will make decisions about various aspects of the case. For example, he may decide that certain evidence is irrelevant to the case or should be excluded because it could prejudice the jury. Or, he may rule in favor of the respondent on a specific issue without deciding the case entirely.
On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, the Court may hear 1-3 arguments. One hour of oral argument time is allowed to each case. Members of the Court take use of this opportunity to ask the representatives to clarify or expound on topics raised in their briefs. Oral arguments are typically followed by a poll of the justices as to how they vote on the cases before them.
The chief justice leads the court in announcing its decisions. The other members of the court may comment on cases before them, but cannot join in the decision unless they write separate opinions. The last word on most cases is said to be the opinion of the leader of the majority, even if it isn't written by him or her. However, if no majority opinion can be reached, an unsigned opinion called "per curiam" (Latin for "by the court") is used.
There have been many attempts to change this system, but none has succeeded so far. The current system was established at the beginning of the Supreme Court's history in 1789. Before then, courts were not expected to announce their decisions in advance; instead, they would release their opinions when they were done writing them. This practice led to problems with delayed decisions that could not be appealed, so in 1789 the first Supreme Court adopted the present system designed by John Marshall.
The Court gives each party only 30 minutes to deliver its case, and the attorneys' arguments are frequently interrupted by questioning from the judges. In an ordinary case, it takes the attorneys about an hour to two hours to deliver their cases. The more complicated your case, the more time the attorneys will need to research it.
The length of time that the justices spend discussing cases is called a "term." Each justice has the opportunity to serve on three different courts - the Supreme Court, the Appeals Courts, or the District Courts - during his or her lifetime. A new justice is appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the Senate. Appointments are made either to fill vacancies on existing courts or as part of new appointments to create courts where none previously existed. Current justices may choose at any time to retire, which allows the president to appoint a new justice who will be able to participate in future decisions.
There are eight seats on the Supreme Court. Five of these seats are required by law to be held by federal judges. These judges are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The other three seats are reserved for members of the bar of any state who are approved by the American Bar Association. Currently, there are seven such judges.